Hannah Hutchison on Charles Blackman

Part of a series of new perspectives on portraiture commissioned for Archie Plus

Charles Blackman

Girl dreaming

1953
oil on hardboard
Purchased 1978
© Charles Blackman. Licensed by Copyright Agency

A young schoolgirl, distracted and daydreaming, wanders through a desolate space. The scene is cast in dusty tones, evoking an impenetrable realm somewhere between reality and imagination. In this place, she is alone. Her angular silhouette echoes the sharp edges of the buildings in the background and alludes to an invisible but lurking danger.

Blackman’s eerie vision of the streets of 1950s Melbourne feels surprisingly prescient in 2020. In Melbourne especially, the coronavirus – another invisible but lurking danger – has created a new urban landscape of silent streets and isolation. A changed world of uncanny stillness filled with daydreams of reuniting with loved ones. We wait to see what comes next, remaining hopeful for the future.

Hannah Hutchison is assistant curator of Australian art

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